------------------------------------------------------------------- Female inmates need protection (A letter to the editor of the Oregonian from a board member of Amnesty International USA seeks support for Oregon House Bill 3596, introduced by Rep. Kathy Lowe, D-Milwaukie, which would criminalize sexual misconduct between guards and inmates. Male prison and jail guards in this country fondle, rape and coerce sex from female inmates. Amnesty International was instrumental in getting custodial sexual-misconduct legislation passed in three states this year - Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. Oregon is one of the few states that still do not have statutory protection for female prisoners.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Wed, Apr 21 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Kathy M. Bachman, Board of directors, Amnesty International USA, West Linn (a suburb south of Portland) Female inmates need protection The atrocities of rape and sexual abuse inflicted on women by their captors in Kosovo prompt public outrage throughout America. We see this as a violation of basic human rights. But the same abuses exist in this country: Male prison and jail guards fondle, rape and coerce sex from female inmates. Amnesty International was instrumental in getting custodial sexual-misconduct legislation passed in three states this year -- Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. Oregon is one of the few states that still do not have statutory protection for female prisoners. Oregon House Bill 3596, introduced by Rep. Kathy Lowe, D-Milwaukie, criminalizes sexual misconduct between guards and inmates. This bill will serve to strengthen our prison system, for without such legislation, the state remains at risk for civil action. Recently, a female inmate received $110,000 from Washington state after DNA testing proved that her child had been fathered by a guard. It took the DNA tests for officials to believe she had been repeatedly raped. I urge Speaker of the House Lynn Snodgrass and Rep. Kevin Mannix, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee-Criminal Law, to bring HB 3596 to the floor of the House.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Don't link tobacco, schools (A letter to the editor of the Oregonian says the proposal by Oregon Treasurer Jim Hill to cash out the state's interest in its settlement with tobacco companies, thereby raising money to pay school costs, defers finding another source of education funding to the next biennium and leaves the tobacco-related health costs to be paid later, too.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Wed, Apr 21 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Wayne and Carolyn Wright, Oregon City Don't link tobacco, schools The temporary fix of stealing the tobacco money to pay school costs (April 7, 11 articles) defers finding another source of education funding to the next biennium and leaves the tobacco-related health costs to be paid later, too. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is a wimpy way to run the government, especially when it costs more in the long run. We should find a new stable source of education funding now, not just put it off.
------------------------------------------------------------------- $10 Million Claim Filed In Pot Arrest: Cancer patient had prescription (According to the Sacramento Bee, Robert DeArkland, 71, of Fair Oaks, California, who suffers from prostate cancer and arthritis, filed the claim against Sacramento County in response to prohibition agents from both Sacramento and Placer counties raiding his home last October and seizing 13 marijuana plants, $420 in cash and a scale. "I might not get a dime, but at least it may stop other people from being harassed," DeArkland said. He added that he would file a lawsuit against the county if his claim is rejected.) Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 16:12:34 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: $10 Million Claim Filed In Pot Arrest: Cancer patient had prescription Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: muad-dib (email@example.com) Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 Source: Sacramento Bee (CA) Copyright: 1999 The Sacramento Bee Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852 Feedback: http://www.sacbee.com/about_us/sacbeemail.html Website: http://www.sacbee.com/ Forum: http://www.sacbee.com/voices/voices_forum.html Author: Pamela Martineau, Bee Staff Writer $10 MILLION CLAIM FILED IN POT ARREST: Cancer patient had prescription A 71-year-old Fair Oaks cancer patient with a doctor's prescription to smoke marijuana has filed a $10 million claim against Sacramento County alleging he was illegally arrested for growing pot at home. Robert DeArkland, who suffers from prostate cancer and arthritis, was arrested Feb. 5 and charged with felony illegal possession and cultivation of marijuana for sale. The charges stemmed from a law enforcement raid of DeArkland's home last October in which narcotics officers from Sacramento and Placer counties seized 13 marijuana plants, $420 in cash and a scale. "I might not get a dime, but at least it may stop other people from being harassed," DeArkland said. Officials with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office dropped the charges against DeArkland last week, citing insufficient evidence to obtain conviction. DeArkland, a retired home inspector, said that armed officers descended on his residence in full riot gear, barred his teenage children from leaving for school and frightened his wife by saying they would seize their home if he were convicted. He added that he will file a lawsuit against the county if his claim is rejected. Sacramento County Acting Executive Robert Ryan declined to comment on the claim, saying he had not yet read it. Steve Grippi, a deputy district attorney with Sacramento County, said the case highlights the ambiguities in the medical marijuana law approved by voters in 1996. The law doesn't outline how much marijuana is acceptable for personal use, nor does it define the types of serious illnesses for which weed smoking is appropriate. "I think there was a lot of evidence that maybe this wasn't legitimate (medicinal use), but there wasn't evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt," Grippi said. DeArkland stressed that at the time of the raid he had taped to his wall a letter from the Oakland Cannabis Club and a doctor's written permission saying he had the right to cultivate marijuana. Grippi said drug enforcement officers believed that the number of plants discovered at DeArkland's residence, the scale found on the premises, as well as an elaborate cultivation light system for the weed suggested the marijuana was being cultivated for more than personal use. Local attorney Joe Farina, who represented DeArkland in the criminal portion of his case, said he is handling about a half a dozen similar medicinal marijuana cases in Sacramento County. "This continues to be a problem in Sacramento County," Farina said of the arrest of people who have a doctor's permission to smoke marijuana. In Placer County, local dentist Dr. Michael A. Baldwin and his wife Georgia are currently on trial for illegal possession of marijuana for sale after law enforcement officers found 146 marijuana plants at their Loomis home. Both had a doctor's prescription for the weed.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Police brutality at drum circle in Salt Lake City, Utah (A list subscriber forwards a first-person account of Sunday's confrontation that differs considerably from the Salt Lake Tribune's version.) Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 10:05:00 -0700 To: email@example.com From: "D. Paul Stanford" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: "CRRH mailing list" (email@example.com) Subject: Fwd: police brutality at drum circle in SLC Utah >From: Durabel@aol.com >Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 05:45:21 EDT >Subject: police brutality at drum circle in SLC Utah >To: firstname.lastname@example.org > >So the other day 4/18/99 to be exact it seems as though our very own salt >lake police department decided that they are above the law. You see as many >men women and children were gathered together to enjoy a beautiful sunday >afternoon, and play on percussion instruments the police department decided >that this was an illegal assembly. As they were trying to force the croud to >depart they were asked several questions on why they were being kicked out, >in fact one girl was tackled to the ground and restrained when she asked why >they were being kicked out. when the croud witnessed this they started to >turn on the officers who in turn called for reinforcements, including swat. >When reinforcements arrived they kicked averyone out of the park by use of >force including beating two men and one woman across the thighs and ribs with >billy clubs (all this for performing a peaceful sit in). Does it not say in >our constitution that we as Americans have the right to peaceful assembly? >Does the fact that they are police officers give them the right to break the >law? NO IT DOES NOT! I say bullshit! It is time that we as people of >this great nation stand together and put an end to police bullying and >brutality write stories to the newspaper and to congress about police >wrongdoings. > >Thank you for your attention
------------------------------------------------------------------- Study: Drug Treatment Cuts Crime (The Associated Press says an Arizona Supreme Court study commissioned by the state legislature found that the mandatory treatment provision for nonviolent, first- and second-time drug offenders included in Proposition 200 led to reduced crime, saved taxpayers more than $2.56 million, and resulted in 78 percent of participants later testing drug-free. The 1996 law, which also allows doctors to prescribe marijuana, was repealed by the legislature but reapproved last fall in a second vote.) Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 11:21:53 -0800 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (email@example.com) From: Dave Fratello (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: AZ: Drug Initiative Cuts Crime Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org (This is the first official survey of the results of Arizona's Prop. 200, which included medical-use-of-illegal-drugs provisions, but also a rewrite of key laws on drug possession. Late in the story you see criticism from the Maricopa County D.A. -- they're steaming because they opposed this initiative, since it undoes "Do Drugs, Do Time," their landmark harm maximization program...) *** Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Study: Drug Treatment Cuts Crime The Associated Press By PATRICK GRAHAM PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona's voter-approved program of sentencing nonviolent, first- and second-time drug offenders to treatment rather than prison reduces crime and saves tax money, according to a state Supreme Court study. The program is part of a 1996 law, which also allows doctors to prescribe marijuana and some other outlawed drugs to severely or terminally ill patients. It was repealed by the legislature but reapproved last fall in a public referendum. The study, ordered by the Legislature, found the drug offender program saved taxpayers more than $2.56 million, and that 78 percent of the participants later tested drug-free. ``The outcome benefits of this intervention over time will reveal not only fiscal and crime reduction benefits, but an increase in quality of life conditions of this population such as improved family and social relationships, increased work productivity and wages, and decreased health system costs,'' the high court said. Chuck Blanchard, legal counsel with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said of the study that drug treatment rather than prison ``is a no-brainer'' way to fight crime. ``If you really want to solve the crime problem, you have to deal with the treatment side,'' the former Arizona lawmaker said. The court looked at 2,622 drug offenders placed on probation and in county-run drug treatment programs from July 1997 to June 1998. There are five treatment programs varying in intensity and duration depending on the severity of an offender's addiction and psychological problems. The study also found that 77 percent of the participants made at least one of the required payments toward the cost of their treatment. ``As it turns out, the (law) is doing more to reduce drug use and crime than any other state program -- and saving taxpayer dollars at the same time,'' said Judge Rudy Gerber of the Arizona Court of Appeals in Tucson. However, the Supreme Court study didn't fully gauge the success of treatment programs because it excluded recidivism rates. Court officials said they'll look at those rates after the end of the current fiscal year. ``This study was only for the first year of the program,'' said Barbara Broderick, the court's director of adult services. ``We eventually want to be able look at quality of life indicators -- such as if they're drug-free, have a job, are paying taxes and restitution.'' The study was criticized by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. The county includes Phoenix. ``This report does a disservice to the Supreme Court in that it gives the illusion all this money is being saved,'' said Deputy County Attorney Barnett Lotstein. He said it's misleading for the court to include first-time offenders among those kept from prison because they would never be imprisoned. Maricopa County has offered its own drug treatment diversion programs for first-time offenders for the past 10 years. Arizona is not the first state to conclude that such programs work. Nevada officials, for instance, say their diversion and treatments programs are working to keep offenders off drugs and from committing crimes while freeing up jail space for violent offenders.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Arizona's Prop. 200 Saving Millions of Dollars, Cutting Drug Abuse, Says New Report by State Supreme Court (The PR Newswire version) From: GranVizier@webtv.net Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 09:12:39 -0400 (EDT) To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: [cp] (AZ) Prop. 200 Saving Millions Arizona's Prop. 200 Saving Millions of Dollars, Cutting Drug Abuse, Says New Report by State Supreme Court Controversial Mandate to Divert Non-Violent Drug Users from Prison to Rehab Is Working, Says Report PHOENIX, April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The controversial Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act of 1996 (Proposition 200) is saving dollars, reducing crime and decreasing drug use, according to a report to be issued by the Arizona Supreme Court Tuesday, April 20. One year after the Act was implemented, the report provides the first comprehensive review of its impact. Proposition 200 medicalized Schedule I drugs including marijuana, heroin and LSD, and prohibited the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders. "Opponents of Proposition 200 said this was a 'pro-drug' initiative. As it turns out, the Drug Medicalization Act is doing more to reduce drug use and crime than any other state program -- and saving taxpayer dollars at the same time," said Arizona Appellate Court Judge Rudy Gerber. Approved by over two thirds of Arizonans in November 1996 and reapproved in 1998, the Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act requires that non-violent drug users charged with possession receive mandatory probation and treatment instead of prison sentences. The Act creates a Drug Treatment and Education Fund (DTEF) which diverts liquor taxes to placing drug offenders into specially targeted programs. It also establishes a Parents Commission on Drug Education and Prevention which will channel savings from the Act into youth drug education programs. The Supreme Court was required by law to generate a report card on the voter-approved law, and will report Tuesday that the outcomes for fiscal year 1998 were "very favorable" -- and in some areas, "remarkable." Results include: * Cost savings to Arizona taxpayers of over $2.56 million. * A total of 2,622 offenders diverted into treatment rather than jail or prison. * Over 98 percent of offenders placed in recommended programs. * Over three quarters (77.5%) of probationers tested drug-free after program completion. * Over 61 percent of the 932 probationers for whom data was available completed programs successfully. * 77.1 percent of probationers made at least one payment towards the cost of their treatment. "All of these factors are resulting in safer communities and more substance abusing probationers in recovery," concludes the report. "The outcome benefits of this intervention over time will reveal not only fiscal and crime reduction benefits, but an increase in the quality of life conditions of this population such as improved family and social relationships, increased work productivity and wages, and decreased health system costs." The findings have been hailed as having significance far beyond the state of Arizona. "This report firmly supports a new paradigm of drug control for the nation," says Norman Helber, Chief Adult Probation Officer for Maricopa County, Arizona. These successes are due in part to the Fund's ability to match probationers to appropriate programs based on assessments that go beyond the traditional "Twelve Steps" approach to rehabilitation, according to the report. "The 98.2 percent matching between recommended and actual placement is remarkable and probably would not have happened without the Drug Treatment and Education Fund," it says. SOURCE Adult Services Division of the Arizona Supreme Court (c)1996-1999 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Redistribution, retransmission, republication or commercial exploitation of the contents of this site are expressly prohibited without the written consent of PR Newswire.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Arizona Finds Cost Savings in Treating Drug Offenders (The New York Times version) Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 16:02:45 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US AZ: Arizona Finds Cost Savings in Treating Drug Offenders Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nathan Riley and Dick Evans Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Forum: http://www10.nytimes.com/comment/ Author: Christopher S. Wren Arizona Finds Cost Savings in Treating Drug Offenders Arizona, the first state to begin treating all its nonviolent drug offenders rather than locking them up, says its new policy of diverting addicts from prison into treatment has already saved the taxpayers money. A report issued Tuesday by the Arizona Supreme Court estimated that the state's new program saved more than $2.5 million in its first fiscal year of operation, which ended in June 1998, and looks likely to reap greater savings in the future. The report determined the savings by calculating the difference in cost between locking up a prisoner and putting the prisoner on probation and in treatment. The results come as the nation's prisons and jails overflow with 1.8 million inmates, 400,000 of whom are addicted to drugs. The director of national drug policy, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, has said he wants to reduce the prison population by 250,000 through promoting options for treatment. From California to Connecticut, many states now spend more on prisons than on higher education, making the Arizona model a conspicuous alternative to building more prisons for offenders who committed drug-related crimes to support their habits. At the end of 1998, New York had 22,386 drug felons in its state prisons at an annual cost of more than $700 million, according to the Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit group that monitors prison sentencing in New York. Of 2,622 people on probation diverted into treatment in Arizona, the report said said, 77.5 percent have subsequently tested free of drugs, a rate that is a significantly higher than for offenders on probation in most other states. And 77.1 percent of Arizona drug users on probation, who are expected to help pay for their treatment, made at least one payment. Arizona has 25,000 people behind bars, a majority of whom have drug problems. Unlike the drug courts springing up around the country, which offer offenders treatment as an alternative to trial and a criminal record, Arizona sentences drug offenders to treatment once they have been convicted or plead guilty and tailors the regimen to the particular drug dependency. Arizona finances the treatment through a luxury tax on alcohol sold in the state, with half of the revenue going to a parents' commission to run drug prevention and treatment programs. The $3.1 million in alcohol tax revenue used to treat offenders is in addition to $3.2 million a year previously earmarked by the Legislature, said Barbara Broderick, the state director of adult probation. "Treatment works when it's done right," Ms. Broderick said in a telephone interview from Phoenix. "Early and meaningful intervention probably has the best payback in making sure we are safe" from new crimes by addicts, she said. "When I put treatment with probation, it changes the odds." But Ms. Broderick added: "When we can't get someone to change, we send them to prison. You can't continue to waste resources." The report, which Ms. Broderick edited, said diverting drug offenders into treatment saved Arizona $5,053,014 in prison costs in the 1998 fiscal year. Deducting probation costs and other expenses incurred by the program, the Drug Treatment and Education Fund, the net saving was $2,563,062. The report anticipated that the savings would increase in the current fiscal year as more offenders were channeled into treatment or finished probation. Judge Rudy Gerber of Arizona's Court of Appeals, called the state's new public health approach a welcome improvement over "the revolving-door experience of drug offenders." "It was like a turnstile," said Judge Gerber, who has been hearing cases of drug offenders in Arizona for 25 years. "Many of us came to the conclusion that we were parading them through the courts and prisons without solving the root problem." Now, he said, an offender convicted of possession of a modest amount of cocaine in Arizona gets probation with mandatory treatment. "The same guy in the Federal system is going to get a mandatory five-year sentence," Judge Gerber said. The Arizona Supreme Court report said it costs $16.06 a day to subject someone on probation to intensive supervision, including drug treatment and counseling, compared with $50 a day to keep an inmate in prison. Norman Helber, the chief of adult probation for Maricopa County, which has accounted for 56.6 percent of the arrests for drug sale or possession in Arizona, said the new treatment approach "has been fantastic from the field perspective." He said Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, handles 39,000 people on probation a year, many of whom have substance abuse problems. Helber attributed the change in public opinion to the mounting cost of locking up drug offenders. "I thought it was extremely wise of a broad base of taxpayers in an extremely conservative state to say, we're not going to rely just on prisons anymore," he said. The treatment option was an element of Proposition 200, the Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act, which voters approved in November 1998 by 65 percent to 35 percent. The Legislature balked at enacting it, in part because the referendum also endorsed the use of marijuana and other drugs for medicinal purposes as long as two doctors prescribed it in writing. The proposition was presented again last year to state voters, who approved it again, this time by 57 percent to 43 percent. Charles A. Blanchard, a former Arizona state legislator who is now chief counsel for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that even before Arizona's program became law, offenders convicted of possessing drugs in the state were rarely sent to prison and that some offenders caught selling drugs plea-bargained their sentences down to probation, as it happens in other states. But the referendum made a sizable amount of money available for drug treatment, Blanchard said. And mandating treatment, he said, "caused decision makers to say now that prison isn't even an option, so what do we do with the offenders? In the past, many of these people would get lost in the probation system with nothing really done."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Diversion Law In Arizona Paying Dividends (The Los Angeles Times version) Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 16:02:53 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US AZ: Drug Diversion Law In Arizona Paying Dividends Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times. Contact: email@example.com Fax: (213) 237-4712 Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Forum: http://www.latimes.com/home/discuss/ Author: Hector Tobar, Times Staff Writer DRUG DIVERSION LAW IN ARIZONA PAYING DIVIDENDS Treatment: Early results indicate low recidivism, reduced cost to taxpayers compared with jailing offenders. But critics say statistics are misleading. A controversial Arizona law that diverts nonviolent drug offenders from prison and into one of the nation's most sweeping drug treatment programs has registered remarkable early successes, according to a report scheduled to be released today by the Arizona Supreme Court. More than threequarters of the 2,622 offenders who completed the program tested negative for drugs, the report said. Keeping the offenders in drug treatment cost half as much as it would have to imprison them, saving Arizona taxpayers $2.6 million. The report was immediately attacked, however, by officials in the prosecutor's office of Arizona's largest county, who said the report used misleading statistics to create a "false impression that doesn't approach reality." The drug treatment programs were mandated by Proposition 200, a voter initiative approved by 65% of the Arizona electorate in 1996. "This was a citizen initiative in a pretty conservative state," said Barbara Broderick, the report's author. "But most of us realize that substance abuse is a public health issue that is devastating our community, and that prison should be used for people who are violent or totally recalcitrant." The report did not address the most controversial element of Proposition 200: a provision that allowed physicians to dispense marijuana, heroin and other drugs as prescriptions. That part of the law was overturned temporarily by the Arizona Legislature. Still, supporters of the law saw in the report a vindication of a liberal minded approach to the drug problem, a strategy that runs counter to the "zero tolerance" policies advocated by many local leaders. "Opponents of Proposition 200 said this was a 'prodrug' initiative," Arizona Appellate Court Judge Rudy Gerber, a Proposition 200 supporter, said in a statement. "As it turns out, [the law] is doing more to reduce crime than any other state program, and saving taxpayer dollars at the same time." Offenders assigned to the Arizona program receive treatment according to an HMO style triage system, Broderick said. Some are merely required to attend education classes one to three times each week, while others were enrolled in intensive outpatient programs that involved daily sessions with therapists. In addition, 77% of those placed on probation under the program made at least one payment to cover the cost of their treatment. Because the drug treatment program has been in effect for just a year, the study was unable to say whether it will reduce recidivism. Other studies, however, show that those receiving such treatment are almost four times less likely to commit crimes. Barnett Lothstein, a special assistant county attorney in Maricopa County, did not dispute the effectiveness of drug treatment, but did question the premise of the Supreme Court study. Maricopa Countyhome of 60% of Arizona's population already had a diversion program for first time drug offenders. A few years ago, when Proposition 200 was being debated by the voters, the prosecutor's office did a survey of county jails to see how many firsttime drug offenders were locked up. "There were none, not a person, because they were all offered diversion," he said. The Supreme Court study said 550 potential inmates had been kept out of jail. Such claims, he said, were illusory.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Study Backs Treatment, Not Prison, For Addicts (The Chicago Tribune version in the Seattle Times) Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 21:31:04 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US AZ: Study Backs Treatment, Not Prison, For Addicts Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 Source: Seattle Times (WA) Copyright: 1999 The Seattle Times Company Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.seattletimes.com/ Author: V. Dion Haynes, Chicago Tribune STUDY BACKS TREATMENT, NOT PRISON, FOR ADDICTS In a report that likely will increase debate on the merits of imprisoning substance abusers, the Arizona Supreme Court today issued a study concluding that the state's new mandatory-treatment law has broken drug users' habits in the short term and saved the state millions of dollars. With the 1996 passage of Proposition 200, Arizona became the first state to prohibit incarceration of first- and second-time drug users in favor of mandatory treatment. The law, which voters reaffirmed last November after legislators moved to weaken it, also legalized marijuana for medical use, but that provision has never been implemented. $2.5 million saved The state Supreme Court study concluded that in 1998 Arizona saved $2.5 million by sending users into treatment rather than prison and that 77 percent of the offenders remained drug-free at the end of the year. "I was a trial judge for 10 years, and I got tired of the revolving-door syndrome - I'd send drug offenders to prison, and they'd wind up right back in the court system. Prison was no cure for the drug problem," said Judge Rudolph Gerber of the Arizona Court of Appeals, who was on the committee that sponsored the ballot initiative. "I'd like to see this become a national model," he added. Too new to judge? But critics remain skeptical. They contend that after only one year, the program is too new to be deemed a success. "The results are based on the premise that all drug offenders go to prison. That is not the case," said Bill Fitzgerald, spokesman for Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley. "Prisons aren't full of first-time offenders," Fitzgerald said, adding that the state already has several treatment programs. "Anyone making the assumption that everyone automatically goes to prison is way off." Charles Blanchard, chief counsel of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said he is encouraged by the results of the study. He said the federal government is moving in the same direction as Arizona, proposing $100 million in funds in next year's budget to finance drug-treatment programs across the country. The government, he added, already has encouraged states to establish drug courts with the authority to drop drug charges for offenders who go through treatment and remain clean. More than 400 drug courts are operating around the country, up from 12 in 1994. Arizona's Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act of 1996 mandated that funds from a liquor tax be used to finance treatment programs for nonviolent first- and second-time offenders. Third-time offenders would be subject to imprisonment. Proposition 200 grew out of a study to find alternatives to incarcerating drug offenders.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Defendant Again Represents Himself In Marijuana Case (The Dubuque Telegraph Herald, in Iowa, says Gregory Sharkey argued at his retrial Tuesday that the plants he was busted for in October 1995 were just ditchweed and he was maliciously prosecuted. Sharkey was first sentenced to multiple 15-year sentences for 380 grams of marijuana and 66 marijuana plants. But in 1998 the Iowa Supreme Court reversed the conviction, saying his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated because a sufficient inquiry into his understanding of legal representation was not conducted.) Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 16:52:44 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US IA: Defendant Again Represents Himself In Marijuana Case Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Dan Berkes (email@example.com) Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 Source: Dubuque Telegraph Herald Contact: THonline@wcinet.com Website: http://www.thonline.com/ Author: Shannon Henson DEFENDANT AGAIN REPRESENTS HIMSELF IN MARIJUANA CASE Reversed conviction: Sharkey says the plants were just ditchweed and he was maliciously prosecuted Every man gets his chance in court to defend himself. Gregory Sharkey started his second chance on Tuesday. Opening arguments and the first day of testimony took place Tuesday in Dubuque County District Court in the retrial of Sharkey, 48, formerly of 966 Liberty St. He is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and manufacturing of marijuana. Sharkey was arrested after a search of his residence in October 1995 produced 380 grams of marijuana, paraphernalia and 66 marijuana plants. Sharkey, who represented himself, was convicted of those charges in December 1996 and sentenced to 15 years in prison on each count. In 1998 the Iowa Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded the case back to Dubuque County, saying Sharkey's Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated because a sufficient inquiry into his understanding of legal representation was not conducted. In the 10 months proceeding his first trial, Sharkey fired or declined the representation of no less than five attorneys. He is defending himself in this trial as well. Attorney Phil Jensen had been given the case, but Sharkey filed a motion to remove him. Jensen remains in the courtroom at the request of Dubuque County District Judge Lawrence Fautsch, who said Jensen will serve as a stand-by attorney. On Tuesday, Assistant County Attorney Tim Gallagher told the jurors in a 10-minute opening argument that the case is based on the testimony of law enforcement officers who executed the search warrant and discovered the evidence at Sharkey's residence. Addressing the jurors wearing jeans, with a hair comb sticking out of a back pocket, Sharkey spent an hour and a half in opening arguments telling them he was entrapped by law enforcement and was previously convicted as a result of malicious prosecution. In the rambling opening, Sharkey also alluded to disputes he had with the City of Dubuque in the early to mid-1990s over the zoning of his land. He said the marijuana seized on his property was merely ditchweed and that the initial judge was unfair because he wanted to appear tough on drugs. The gray-haired, pony-tailed man went on to say that he was given 500 pages of documentation from his first trial on Monday and that Fautsch had not given him enough time to examine the documents. "The judge doesn't want me to go through the transcripts," Sharkey said. "I'd like to poll the jury. How many of you think that ruling should stand?" Gallagher objected and Fautsch agreed with him. "See," Sharkey said to the jury, "they won't even let you speak." The sole witness of the day was Capt. Don Vrotsos, project director of the Dubuque Drug Task Force. He was one of the officers who executed the search warrant at Sharkey's property. Vrotsos, during more than four hours of testimony, said the street value of the marijuana seized was $100,000. He believed the plants were cultivated because mulch was surrounding some of them. Sharkey, who repeatedly objected to Vrotsos' testimony because he had not testified in his first trial, kept asking Vrotsos if he could ascertain the quality of marijuana or differentiate between imported or home-grown. "I can tell you it's marijuana," Vrotsos said matter-of-factly. When Vrotsos could not remember a few details about the case, Sharkey said a long-time effect of smoking marijuana is memory deterioration. Could that be why he could not remember, he asked. Vrotsos replied indignantly that he had never smoked marijuana and that he has executed roughly 100 search warrants since the one at Sharkey's residence. The trial continues today.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Double Standard - Inequality In Criminal Justice May Be A Good Thing For The Favored Classes (The New York Times reviews the book "No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System," by David Cole. "No Equal Justice" makes a strong case that we have tolerated a law enforcement strategy that "depends on the exploitation of race and class divisions." Cole offers three solutions. The first two admit the mistake, then revamp the rules to reduce the influence of race and class - but are probably unrealistic, especially as the new rules could reduce "the rights that the privileged now enjoy." Cole's third solution endorses "community-based criminal justice," the antithesis of the "tough on crime" approach, and would also be a tough sell.) a review of: NO EQUAL JUSTICE Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System. By David Cole. 218 pp. New York: The New Press. $25. Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 17:03:42 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: NYT book review of No Equal Justice Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Peter Webster Pubdate: 21 Mar 1999 Source: The New York Times Book Review Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Forum: http://www10.nytimes.com/comment/ Author: Stephen Gillers Note: Stephen Gillers teaches legal ethics and evidence at New York University Law School. THE DOUBLE STANDARD Inequality In Criminal Justice May Be A Good Thing For The Favored Classes a review of: NO EQUAL JUSTICE Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System. By David Cole. 218 pp. New York: The New Press. $25. LAST month, four white police officers shot and killed a young unarmed black man named Amadou Diallo in the vestibule of his Bronx tenement. A lawyer for the officers later called the shooting justified because Diallo fit the general description of a rape suspect and because he appeared to be reaching for a weapon. Do you accept these reasons? Would you accept them if Diallo had been a welldressed older white man standing in the doorway of his Park Avenue co-op? David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor and prominent civil liberties advocate, says that in answering questions like these, white Americans will count Diallo's race, age and class in the officers' favor. They would reject the officers' reasons had the shooting occurred on Park Avenue, but then the officers would not have sensed danger on Park Avenue in the first place. For the white middle class, the lesson is soothing: The law protects them. For young black men in poor neighborhoods, the lesson is chilling: An ambiguous hand movement in a stressful moment can legally end their lives. As Cole sees it, this disparity reveals two levels of constitutional rights, first class for the "privileged" and steerage for minorities and the poor. But Cole goes farther. The disparity is no accident. Our criminal justice system, he writes, "affirmatively depends on inequality." The majority of Americans endorse double standards of justice because without them we "could not enjoy as much constitutional protection of our liberties," even as we engage in a "policy of mass incarceration." Cole gives two reasons that the Constitution's principled language fails to protect all equally: race and class. Race is not supposed to count when the police make decisions, but Cole says it is impossible for race not to count. Because police discretion is largely unchecked, "racial prejudice and stereotypes linking racial minorities to crime rush to fill the void" created by the lack of judicial oversight. For example, Cole quotes statistics showing that black drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike are three times as likely as white drivers to be stopped for traffic offenses. Charles Ogletree, a black Harvard Law School professor, makes the same point more personally: "If I'm dressed in a knit cap and a hooded jacket, I'm probable cause." Cole's indictment goes beyond police discretion to include prosecutors, judges, legislators and juries. In theory, the Constitution guarantees indigent defendants effective counsel. In reality, Supreme Court rulings have allowed judges to treat lawyers as effective even when they conduct no investigation, fail to cross-examine crucial witnesses, sleep during testimony or come to court drunk. In theory, prosecutors cannot seek to exclude potential jurors because of their race. In reality, judges are too quick to accept disingenuous excuses. Cole quotes a study's finding that "in almost any situation a prosecutor can readily craft an acceptable neutral explanation to justify striking black jurors because of their race." Nor may race influence decisions about whom to prosecute. Yet in reality, prosecutions of African-Americans for drug crimes can be so disproportionately high that no raceneutral explanation seems credible. Cole reports, for example, that in Columbus, Ohio, "black males are less than 11 percent of the population, but account for 90 percent of drug arrests." WITH these examples and others, "No Equal Justice" makes a strong case that we have tolerated a law enforcement strategy that "depends on the exploitation of race and class divisions." Cole offers three solutions. The first two admit the mistake, then revamp the rules to reduce the influence of race and class - are probably unrealistic, especially as the new rules could reduce "the rights that the privileged now enjoy." Take the traits Federal agents have used to identify travelers who may be transporting drugs. Agents have cited the following behavior to defend stops: The suspect was traveling alone, he had a companion; the suspect "acted too nervous," he "acted too calm"; the suspect was "one of first to deplane," "one of last to deplane" or "deplaned in the middle." Cole writes that such broad criteria "will be used disproportionately against minorities." But if courts forbid reliance on race, some white travelers who are not now inconvenienced will be. Citing efforts here and abroad, Cole's third solution endorses "community-based criminal justice." This solution focuses "on reinforcing the community ties that deter crime in the first place, encouraging community associations, involving the community in punishment and rehabilitation . . . and reintegrating offenders into society." This is the ideological antithesis of the "tough on crime" chorus - more police with more discretion, more arrests, more prosecutions, and more time in more prisons. In the last quarter-century, those punitive policies have quintupled the prison population, with nonviolent offenders accounting for much of that increase. In Cole's view, they have also robbed criminal law of moral legitimacy among minority groups, which lessens respect for law and increases our dependence on brute force. Community-based policies will be a tough sell because they have been so easy to caricature as soft on crime. Unless voters are receptive, politicians won't propose them. So Cole's remedies require an enlightened electorate. A promising sign is that the "privileged" many also perceive a double standard. In an American Bar Association poll released last month, 47 percent of respondents said the legal system does not "treat all ethnic and racial groups the same." That's a start. Unfortunately, it may take tragic events like the death of Amadou Diallo to translate that perception into policies.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Law (A staff editorial in the Charlotte Observer, in North Carolina, endorses a proposed local anti-paraphernalia ordinance, even though a similar state law already exists.) Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 08:57:14 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US NC: Editorial: Drug Law Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 Source: Charlotte Observer (NC) Copyright: 1999 The Charlotte Observer Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.charlotte.com/observer/ EDITORIAL Drug law Let's give this new one a careful try A Charlotte City Council committee wants the full council to pass an ordinance penalizing the sale of drug paraphernalia. We think the idea is worth a careful try. The 23 neighborhoods represented by the anti-drug group Fighting Back certainly think so. Council member Malachi Greene proposed the ordinance at their request. At a hearing Monday the group's director, Hattie Anthony, said, "They (residents) want some of these items removed from their neighborhoods so young people won't have . . . easy access to them." She said a series of neighborhood meetings had revealed strong support for the measure. Some others are understandably wary. They point out difficulties in defining what equipment is covered. Pipes, for example, may be put to various uses, most quite legal. Skeptics are worried about the possibilities for selective enforcement. Perhaps with this in mind, the ordinance would call upon law enforcement officials to consider surrounding circumstances in deciding whether items qualified as drug paraphernalia. Examples might be known drug abuse nearby, or the presence in a store of magazines about marijuana smoking. In requiring this, the ordinance would mimic a state statute that already outlaws the manufacture or possession of a long list of the items in question. The ordinance would levy a civil penalty of a $100 fine for each offense. Officials say this would be easier to enforce than the state law. They say also that shady operators would fear this more than the prospect of a state misdemeanor charge grinding its way through a court system that is always extremely busy with larger matters. In light of the neighborhoods' strong call for help, it's better to move on known problems than to shrink from ones that may not develop. We think it's appropriate to bet on the probability that the community and the Police Department, working together, can apply the proposed ordinance effectively and fairly.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cops Can't Keep Up With B.C. Drug Trade (The Kelowna Daily Courier says figures compiled by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics show that in 1997, British Columbia had 13 per cent of Canada's population but was responsible for 25 per cent all the cannabis "incidents" in the country, 28 per cent of cocaine offences and 61 per cent of all heroin incidents. B.C.'s rate of drug charges is 26 per cent higher than the national average. But the drug problem is so prevalent, fewer than one in three cannabis offences resulted in criminal charges.) Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 03:29:50 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Canada: Cops Can't Keep Up With B.C. Drug Trade Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: H. Couch Pubdate: Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Source: Kelowna Daily Courier (Canada) Website: http://www.ok.bc.ca/dc/ Copyright 1999 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers Author: Don Plant COPS CAN'T KEEP UP WITH B.C. DRUG TRADE If you're a drug user, B.C. is the Shangri-La of Canada. Statistics Canada reports B.C. had the highest rate of drug incidents of any province in the country in 1997. There were 430 drug incidents for every 100,000 British Columbians that year, nearly twice the national average. More startling is the high proportion of drug offences in B.C. compared to the rest of Canada. In 1997, our province was responsible for 25 per cent of all the cannabis incidents in the country, 28 per cent of the cocaine offences and 61 per cent of all heroin incidents. Our population comprises 13 per cent of the nation's. B.C.'s rate of drug charges is 26 per cent higher than the national average. But the drug problem is so prevalent, fewer than one in three cannabis offences resulted in criminal charges. "We don't prosecute nearly as many narcotics charges as they do percentage-wise in other provinces," said Kelowna prosecutor Michael Dirk. "There are more marijuana charges in Alberta and Saskatchewan than in B.C." The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics compiled the figures after consulting with police departments across the country. The stats show the farther west you go in Canada, the higher the crime rate, said senior analyst Robert Allen. "It's the same in the U.S., B.C. has historically the highest crime rate in Canada," he said. "B.C. and California have very transient populations." Police aren't surprised by the trend. B.C. is known as a major exporter of marijuana and importer of heroin and cocaine. And they blame a lax court system, not enough police funding and the West Coast lifestyle as contributing factors. Kelowna RCMP are struggling to keep up with the volume of information pouring in on marijuana grow operations. The local Mounties take down an indoor dope farm about once a week. Yet they receive about a tip a day on where to bust next. "With the resources we have... we're only touching the tip of the iceberg," said RCMP spokesman Garth Letcher. "With today's legal standards, there's only so much we can do." Other provinces have stiffer sanctions, which attracts users to B.C. The milder climate and the fact you can get free hypodermic needles also helps, said RCMP Cpl. Fergus Rodine. "A lot of people can afford it. Loggers and fishermen work hard and party. There's a market for it. You don't go to Estevan, Sask. to be a drug dealer," he said. Local police concentrate more on stopping the suppliers than charging the users. They'd sooner go after someone trafficking cocaine than someone who grows pot because a coke addict is more likely to rob a bank, said Rodine. The heroin problem plaguing the Lower Mainland is also spilling over into the Okanagan. It's getting "more and more prevalent" in the Valley, said RCMP Cpl. Randy Hundt. But people can't rely on police alone to fix the growing drug problem, said Letcher. "There have to be changes among all partners involved, the community, police and judicial system," he said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Police chiefs want possession of all narcotics decriminalized - Fight court backlog (According to the National Post, the newspaper has learned that Canada's police chiefs have recommended that the federal government decriminalize possession of small quantities of all illegal narcotics, including heroin. The proposal was approved last week by the board of directors of the Association of Canadian Police Chiefs and will be submitted to the membership for a vote later this year. The recommendation is meant to clear the courts of a backlog of drug cases and allow police to concentrate resources on more serious crimes.) Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 14:22:18 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Lynn Harichy (email@example.com) Subject: Police chiefs want possession of all narcotics decriminalized Fight court backlog Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.nationalpost.com/ Forum: http://forums.canada.com/~canada Copyright: Southam Inc. Police chiefs want possession of all narcotics decriminalized Fight court backlog Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief National Post OTTAWA - Canada's police chiefs are recommending that the federal government decriminalize possession of small quantities of all illegal narcotics, including heroin, the National Post has learned. If the federal government accepts the proposal, anyone convicted of simple possession of narcotics would simply sign a guilty statement and pay a fine, without having to go through the court system. They would not have a criminal record. The proposal is meant to clear the courts of a backlog of drug cases and allow police to concentrate resources on more serious crimes. It was approved by the board of directors of the Association of Canadian Police Chiefs last week and will be submitted to the membership for a vote later this year. The association's drug abuse committee, led by Barry King, Chief of the Brockville, Ont. police force, proposed decriminalization of narcotics, but also called for new federal and provincial programs to deal with substance abuse. Senior federal officials were part of the "intense dialogue" in the drafting of the proposal and one top Justice Department official said it will be given serious consideration. Mr. King would not offer details until the proposal is revealed at a news conference next week, but Julian Fantino, chief of the York Region police force and a member of the association's board of directors, stressed they are not recommending legalization of marijunana, cocaine, heroin, or other illegal drugs. Mr. Fantino said Canada's police chiefs are responding to the reality that police forces are wasting scarce resources going to court when most judges throw out drug-possession cases. "I mean we diligently put these cases forward but in places like Vancouver, for example, it is a terrible problem just trying to get any kind of conviction for these issues using the courts. . . It is just draining our resources and, in the end, the outcome is nothing," he told the National Post yesterday. Chief Fantino stressed, however, that the police chiefs also want politicians to direct substantial funds to help deal with drug abuse, as well as for education programs to dissuade young people from trying narcotics. He points to the United States, where efforts are underway to treat drug abuse as a health issue and not as a crime. "We rely heavily on the criminal justice system, the police to deal with this issue. We need a strategic, sophisticated drug policy in this country. There needs to be a great deal more effort with respect to education, getting at young people and treating people who want to be treated," he said. However, Mr. Fantino said the police also need funds to go after organized crime, which is the principal conduit of illegal drugs into Canada. The problem is that governments are short-changing the police, he said. "We don't seem to realize how devastating it is to see the deterioration of communities, the ruination of lives, but this is directly linked to the activities of organized crime . . . but we have to go begging for the resources to help us do anything of meaningful work with respect to organized crime. Our priorities in this country are all screwed up," he said. A senior law enforcement official, however, who asked not to be identified, said the government would be foolish to accept the proposal by the police chiefs. It would particularly anger the Americans, who are already upset about Canada's inability to stop smuggling of drugs and immigrants into the U.S. "I wonder how they will react to know that the federal government is contemplating decriminalizing possession of narcotics. I suspect they would be somewhat pissed," said the official, who noted it is a subject of controversy among police forces.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Arthritis Drug Linked To 10 Deaths In US (According to the Scotsman, reports handed to the US Food and Drug Administration by the Wall Street Journal showed that Celebrex, a painkiller patented by Monsanto and manufactured by GD Searle, its St Louis-based subsidiary, has been linked to ten deaths and 11 cases of gastrointestinal bleeding in its first three months on the US market. More than two million people have taken Celebrex for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis since January. Scarlett Lee Foster, a Monsanto spokeswoman, said "You can't draw any conclusions from the adverse incident reports.")Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 15:08:32 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Arthritis Drug Linked To 10 Deaths In Us Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com Pubdate: 21 Apr, 1999 Source: Scotsman (UK) Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 1999 Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com Website: http://www.scotsman.com/ Forum: http://www.scotsman.com/ Author: David Montgomery ARTHRITIS DRUG LINKED TO 10 DEATHS IN US A PAINKILLER made by Monsanto, the genetically modified foods company, has been linked to ten deaths and 11 cases of gastrointestinal bleeding in its first three months on the US market, it emerged yesterday. Celebrex was trumpeted as the first of a new generation of arthritis medications. Its makers said it would spare sufferers side effects, such as ulcers, associated with traditional drugs. But according to reports handed to the US Food and Drug Administration by the Wall Street Journal, five users have died after suffering from gastrointestinal haemorrhages or ulcers. Two other deaths were attributed to heart attacks, one to drug interaction and one to kidney disorder. No cause was given for the tenth death. More than two million people have taken Celebrex for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Earlier this month Switzerland became the first country in Europe to approve Celebrex. As well as the United States, it is also approved for marketing in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Scarlett Lee Foster, a Monsanto spokeswoman, said yesterday that there was no evidence that Celebrex caused the deaths or other health problems in people taking the drug. It was launched after clinical trials involving more than 13,000 patients and healthy volunteers in more than 50 studies in 23 countries. "You can't draw any conclusions from the adverse incident reports," she said. The Journal did not specify the sources of the so-called adverse event reports, which could come from health professionals, consumers or the drug company itself. Celebrex, manufactured by St Louis-based Monsanto's GD Searle subsidiary, went on the market in January. It was touted by Monsanto as an effective pain reliever much like ibuprofen, but was much less likely to cause severe stomach problems. So far it has been a success, with 2.5 million prescriptions filled in its first 13 weeks on the market, compared with the record 2.7 million prescriptions of the anti-impotency drug, Viagra, filled during its first three months. Robert DeLap, director of an FDA office of drug evaluation, said more research needed to be done before making a conclusion about Celebrex's safety. "Do we think there's a signal that the product poses some special risk? No, not at the moment," he said. Steve Geis, Searle's vice-president for arthritis clinical research, said he remained excited about Celebrex's performance. "We really feel the drug is performing as expected. The safety profile is what we would expect," he said. Mr Geis declined to go into details about any cases of death linked to the drug, but said that many patients taking Celebrex had other illnesses. Anne Malo, 48, a Canadian who took part in one of the clinical trials, said her life was transformed after she began taking the drug two years ago. She had suffered from severe osteoarthritis for ten years and had tried many drugs with "mediocre [pain] relief at best and, as is common, gastrointestinal side effects". Since taking the drug she had been able to jog between three and five miles a day, swim and go skiing. She had also resumed performing as a musician. "It is certainly not an understatement to say that Celebrex gave me back my life," she said. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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